Bells For Splitting Reality by Olof Cornéer doesn’t rely on a narrative or symbolism to construct meaning. The beauty of his album is its focus on an effect, specifically the arpeggio. An arpeggio is often described as a broken chord. It’s when the notes of a chord are pulled apart and played one by one. It’s a kind of deconstruction. However, the true beauty of an arpeggio lies within its construction. Olof Cornéer is a composer of arpeggios. He assembles his music one note at a time. It accumulates piece by piece until whole.
Think for a moment about the assembled images of David Hockney. They are more cohesive than a collage but more fractured than a still image. They manage to contain the unique relationships between parts while still producing a vivid and striking whole. Like the visual art of David Hockney, Olof Cornéer’s piano tones accumulate. His album, Bells for Splitting Reality, conveys the sound and splendor of assemblage.
Why are you interested in the arpeggio?
Early electronic music utilized arpeggios because mixing equipment had a limited number of channels one could use to combine different sounds. As a solution, synthesizers simulated the sound of a chord on a single channel. If you listen to a synthesizer closely you’ll notice that it produces a sound made from a quick pattern of individual ascending or descending notes. In other words, a synthesizer is an arpeggio. Olof Cornéer started experimenting with electronic music at an early age using a 4-channel recording device called a Portastudio. It’s fun to imagine him playfully experimenting with synthesizers as a child not knowing they would later launch his successful music career as one half of the EDM electronic duo Dada Life.
Tell me about the influence electronic music has had on your work as a composer and why you’ve decided to branch into another genre?
Unlike visual art, the balance of positive and negative space in music is easy to overlook. After all, music typically fills the silence. On the other hand, a skilled musician uses silence to their advantage. For instance, Olof Cornéer provides a generous amount of negative space to accentuate the slow decay of sustained tones. Similar to a synthesizer, the notes blend together. However, Olof Cornéer cleverly inverts this perception by punching each pattern of notes through with force and clarity. It’s the musical equivalent to Rubin Vase. At one moment you can perceive only the negative space, a volume of notes slowly decaying. At other times, you’ll notice the positive as each note of the piano pierces through.